Sustainable Supply Chain Management: Why It Matters & How To Do It

Sustainable Supply Chain

A growing number of people around the world have concerns about climate change and the environment of the Earth as a whole. This concern has led to many efforts to be more mindful of the environment, for individuals, businesses, and entire industries. However, there is one area that hasn’t been addressed as much as others: the supply chain.

How is the environment impacted by the supply chain and what should we do about it? Is there a reason for us to be concerned? Is there a way to be more environmentally-conscious about the supply chain without having to sacrifice quality products or quality customer service?

The Environmental Impact of the Supply Chain

When looking at the overall environmental impact of the consumer sector, the average consumer company’s supply chain accounts for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90% of the impact on the environment, including air, water, and soil. This indicates that while the supply chain’s environmental impact is large and cause for concern, there are also huge opportunities for improvement. 

Some industries are more likely to have a negative environmental impact, especially the modern fast fashion industry. So, this leaves us with the question of, “what opportunities are present that allow for improvement to be achieved when it comes to the environmental impact of the supply chain?” 

Both online stores and brick-and-mortar retailers have to think about the environmental impact of their respective supply chains.

The Business Benefits of Sustainable Supply Chain Management

Creating a more sustainable supply chain is one highly impactful and important way to take better care of the environment. However, it’s also great for business. 

There’s a good chance you may face pressure from investors and even customers themselves to improve your sustainability policies, especially those pertaining to your supply chains. Social media itself has caused many companies to come under direct fire by customers in relation to their sustainability practices.

If you take the time to create a bullet point list of some of the business benefits of making your supply chain more sustainable, you will quickly see that these advantages are worth going after. Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • An improved reputation
  • Increase in sales
  • Reduction in operational costs
  • Develop stronger partner relationships
  • Improve product/service quality
  • Enhance reliability and security of the supply chain itself

5 Tips for a More Sustainable Supply Chain

You’re not going to tackle the entire environmental impact caused by your supply chain overnight. However, taking even the smallest of steps and making any tiny changes can go a long way in heading toward the right direction of creating sustainability policies and practices that improve the impact of the supply chain’s on the environment. 

Here are a few ways you can make your supply chain more sustainable and reduce its environmental impact as a whole.

Map Your Supply Chain

Look at each component of your supply chain to determine how they currently impact the environment. Consider every single one of your suppliers, the unique challenges they face, and what you may be able to do to make improvements.

Address Concerns & Communicate Expectations

Based on your findings from mapping your supply chain, address your concerns directly with your suppliers. Set realistic expectations for both them and your own business, and communicate what you expect or need going forward.

Suggest Improvements 

Suggest ways your suppliers can improve, and look for ways your own business operations can improve as well. Providing concrete tips and advice will make it much easier for you and your suppliers to actually make beneficial changes.

Prioritize Education

Make an effort to educate your suppliers and employees about sustainability at the individual and business levels alike. Knowledge truly is power, and it’s important for everyone to understand why you’re focusing on sustainable supply chain management, why it’s necessary, and how it can be beneficial.

Embrace Technology

There are countless technological solutions available that can help with sustainable supply chain management. Make use of them and see how they can help you create a more sustainable supply chain. Different industries utilize new technologies in unique ways to disrupt and change the industry itself, and embracing technology for the sake of sustainability can lead to similar disruptions.

Industry-specific software solutions can be an effective way to prioritize sustainability. Take for example a fashion or apparel retailer. Retailers in that specific industry may benefit from an apparel manufacturing solution to optimize their supply chain operations.

There are many ways to use technology for supply chain sustainability. Order fulfillment software can help fashion retailers fulfill and distribute customer orders in a way that benefits consumers, their business, and the environment.

Final Thoughts

As you start making changes and reduce the negative environmental impacts of your supply chain, you will notice improvements throughout all areas of your business. You have to keep in mind that being environmentally conscious isn’t only about staying in compliance. It’s more about doing good and believing that if you put good into the world, good will come back to you. There’s no better way to improve the environmental impact of your supply chain than by taking advantage of solutions specifically created for that purpose, which is why you should carefully consider the benefits of using an apparel manufacturing solution.

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